North Shore Community College has concluded a nine-month search for a new leader, choosing a veteran New Jersey educator as its next president.
The college’s board of trustees voted unanimously to recommend the appointment of Patricia A. Gentile to the position. The state Board of Higher Education is set to act on the recommendation at a special meeting next Tuesday.
Gentile, currently dean of advancement, enrollment management, and the Cape May County campus at Atlantic Cape Community College, in New Jersey, was among five finalists and 72 original applicants to succeed Wayne M. Burton, who retired July 31.
If appointed, Gentile (pronounced Jen-tilly) would become the first woman and fourth person overall to serve as North Shore’s permanent president since the college began in 1965. She would start work next January at North Shore, which has campuses in Danvers and Lynn, taking the reins from interim president Janice Forsstrom.
“I am deeply honored to have been selected and recommended to the Board of Higher Education and look forward to working with what I consider to be an excellent community college,” Gentile said in a telephone interview from her home in Egg Harbor Township, N.J.
Gentile, who visited North Shore’s campuses as part of the selection process, said she was impressed by the “very dedicated faculty, the dedicated professionals,” and that the students “were warm and inviting and bright and interested. I really enjoyed the two days I spent there.”
Since 1999, Gentile has been an administrator at Atlantic Cape Community College. Prior to that, she was an adjunct business professor at the college, and held executive posts with several nonprofits, including chief operating officer of the national Children’s Defense Fund, and chief executive officer of two large mid-Atlantic Girl Scout councils.
Gentile, 60, has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania, a master’s degree in business administration from the university’s Wharton School, and a doctoral degree in educational leadership and higher education at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Richard Yagjian, who is chairman of North Shore’s board of trustees and chaired the presidential search committee, said that Gentile’s educational background, especially her Wharton degree, “and the fact that she was the CEO of two significant nonprofits” were factors that stood out about her candidacy.
“She is clearly committed to education and the community college environment,” he said, adding that she also brought some intangible qualities that impressed the board.
“She is a very commanding individual. I would consider her presidential. I think that’s important,” Yagjian said. “She has an outstanding relationship with the business community where she is now and I feel that will translate to North Shore Community College because we are committed to . . . workforce development.”
In her post at Atlantic Cape Community College, which she assumed this past July, Gentile oversees resource development, grants, the college foundation, and college relations and marketing, as well as recruitment, admissions, testing, and financial aid. She also oversees Cape May County Campus, one of the college’s three campuses, a role she has played since 2009.
In her past positions, she headed the college’s noncredit services, workforce and personal development, and contractual programs, including a Health Professions Institute, and a Casino Career Institute, in Atlantic City.
Gentile said she sees similarities between her current college and North Shore.
“Our Atlantic City campus very much reminds me of what I saw in Lynn,” she said. “It has a very diverse population and a lot of interest in assimilating into the culture and figuring out how to be self-sustaining and to advance yourself through education.”John Laidler can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.